Monday, 25 December 2006

Christmas day

Last night Shark said she felt a bit better, and she looked it too, after sleeping all afternoon on the sofa. So we decide to take up an invitation at The Hat's for a Christmas Eve hello. When we get there, Moss, husband to The Hat, opens the door just enough for him to peek out. 'Cat!' he whispers. 'Is there a cat on the ground?' We all look at our feet. No cat. Just as well. The kids are terrified of cats. The door opens a little wider. Moss blocks the entrance, holding a walking stick the wrong way round, like a golf club. He looks like a man who's confused. The Hat appears. 'Cat?' she whispers. 'Not there!' whispers Moss. 'Quick!' she says, 'Get in quick!' We're all ushered in. 'What are you going to do with the stick?' I ask. I know it's a foolish question. 'Strike the cat!' shouts Moss, and slams the door behind us. 'It's vicious!' whispers The Hat. This isn't going to do any good for the cat phobia. The Hat introduces an enormous smiling tabby lolling in front of the fire, stretching out its claws in the air, and invites the children to stroke it.

We stay just an hour; Tiger's looking queasy, so we leave before the inevitable. I supply her with a recycling bag on the way home. She vomits the moment we get into the hall. It sprays down the back of Squirrel's leg. Only three hours left of Christmas Eve, I've yet to wrap the presents, and I'm back on my hands and knees cleaning up sick.

This morning we all sleep in till 9. The kids have cracked it. 'It's from the charity shop!' squeals Shark. All is well until the unicorn's head on a stick. It's from The Hat who doesn't know that these things are best avoided. The first fighting starts and we plan a rota of 30 minutes each for galloping round the house. Dig gives me an ipod. This is fab. I render it completely unusable in two seconds by converting the menu to Chinese. I pass it back to Dig for resetting purposes.

Then there's baked potatoes for lunch. This is a tradition here of sorts, and means there's virtually no cooking done at all except for the pudding which Dig ceremoniously sets on fire at tea-time. This bit seems to cause great hilarity amongst the kids. I insist Dig pours over lots and lots of brandy to keep the laughter flowing.

Unfortunately the brandy pudding brings out the fighting side. The kids refuse to get in the bath. And with triplets, we're always outnumbered. They refuse to get into bed. They refuse to go to sleep. By 10pm, Shark's wound herself up into a screaming fit. It goes on till 10.30. By now she has so much mucus flying I make an assessment whether she's going to have breathing difficulties before opening another bottle. If she needs oxygen, I have to drive her to the Emergency Doctors in town.

Now we're half way done. Apart from the sick there's just a streaming cold, an eye infection, and a toothbrush down the toilet to mar the day. Can we survive Boxing Day without the same?

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